Category: Community

Condo Fire Rekindles Density Debate

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DSC_9203As cleanup efforts continue at the site of a Northwest Highway condo fire that left one dead and approximately 100 displaced, attention is now focused on the future of the prime real estate.
The Preston Place Condominiums were nestled between two of the neighborhood’s tallest buildings. Owners have vowed to rebuild. What exactly they plan to construct remains a mystery.

In 1947, the Dallas City Council created a special district called PD-15 to regulate development in the 14.2-acre area bordered by Northwest highway, Pickwick Lane, and Baltimore Avenue. This area includes the 29-story Preston Tower Condominiums, the 22-story Athena Condominiums, and several smaller residential buildings.

The Preston Place condos were built in 1979 in a section designated as “tract 3” of the special district. Developers originally intended to make it a high-rise as well. Neighborhood opposition eventually convinced them to reduce the height to three stories.

Under the guidelines of PD-15, which was last updated in 1980, development density of the area is limited to “present-day density plus the density of a proposed tower on tract 3.” With property demand in the area near all-time highs, owners may be motivated to build something larger.

Any new construction would be subject to a public hearing and a traffic study. PD-15 also mandates a rate of 1.22 parking spaces per unit as well as additional parking options if the total number of units reaches 318.

“I don’t know what I want them to do with the place,” said Mable Davis, who lives about four blocks away from the towers. “The buildings may have looked a little dated, but I thought it added some charm and character to the neighborhood.”

Davis said she heard a commotion the night of the fire, but didn’t appreciate the sheer extent of the damage until the following morning.

“Lord have mercy,” she said. “I feel so bad for all of those people.”

Nearly 200 firefighters fought the seven-alarm blaze that started shortly before midnight March 3. Crews remained on the scene for nearly a week battling hot spots and occasional flare-ups.
Firefighters found a body early March 6, and the medical examiner later confirmed it to be the remains of Jacqueline McDonald, an 89-year-old resident who was reported missing after the fire started, according Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Due to fire-code regulations at the time it was constructed, the building was not equipped with a modern sprinkler system.

“The cause of the fire is still undetermined, and will most likely stay as such due to the limited access investigators will have as a result of the extensive damage left behind,” Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans said.

Included in the damage are a number of cars in a garage under the building. Water used to fight the fire flooded much of that area. The instability of the building may prevent many if not most of them from being salvaged.

American Red Cross of North Texas spokesperson Taelor Duckworth said the fire was the biggest incident she has worked during her time with the organization.

When she first arrived on the scene, there were only around 20 people standing on the curb as firefighters worked to control the blaze. One hour later, fire consumed all of the units.
While some Preston Place residents were families with small children, many were elderly. Consequently, some of the biggest initial needs on the scene were for medications, glasses, and mobility devices and wheelchairs and walkers.

“Luckily most of them had family or friends in the area so there was no need to open a shelter.” Duckworth said.


Mayor Recognizes Elementary School for UNICEF Contributions

Children perform at the third annual Children First, An Evening with UNICEF on Feb. 24 in Dallas, Texas. (Courtesy UNICEF) 0
Children perform at the third annual Children First, An Evening with UNICEF on Feb. 24 in Dallas, Texas. (Courtesy UNICEF)

During every walk between classes and each hop-skip in the gym, Preston Hollow Elementary School students are thinking of other kids halfway across the world.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has taken notice of the Dallas ISD campus’ globally-inspired efforts and presented the school with an award at a recent UNICEF gala, recognizing the school as a UNICEF Champion.

The U.S. fund for UNICEF supports the organization’s mission of “saving lives, building futures” through fundraising, advocacy, and education.


Fussy Feline? Call the Catsultant

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(Courtesy photo)

When Turtle Creek neighborhood residents Stacey and Don Kivowitz had a cat problem interfering with their sleep, they turned to the Catsultant.

After an environmental analysis of the home, Lana Fraley Rich knew what to do about the intercat aggression and midnight yowling.

“Lana is the cat whisperer,” Stacey Kivowitz said. “She made immediate changes to our cats’ diet, organized our home for perches, and got their teeth checked due to their middle of the night vocalization which made enormous changes in getting a full night’s sleep.”


Operation Kindness Hosts 9th Annual Hope Gala

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Operation Kindness is hosting their 9th Annual Hope Gala on April 30 from 7-10 p.m.. The nonprofit organization cares for more than 5,000 homeless dogs and cats annually, providing them with food, shelter, and medical attention until they find a permanent home. 


Bryan’s House Hosts Special Needs Luncheon

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From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 4, Bryan’s House will be hosting the Everyone Has Special Needs’- Spring 2017 Awards Luncheon and Fashion Show.

Fashion designer Mindy Scheier, founder of the Runway of Dreams Clothing For Special Needs Children in collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, will be the honorary guest. She will be sharing her story and experiences on being a mother of a special needs child.


Southwestern Medical Foundation Presents Sprague Award to Hoblitzelle Foundation

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The Southwestern Medical Foundation presented the Sprague Award to the Hoblitzelle Foundation during a private dinner at Old Parkland Hospital. Hoblitzelle was recognized for its generosity and for carrying the torch in remembrance of Karl Hoblitzelle, who played a key role in identifying the priorities of the city.

The Sprague Award was created in 1991 to honor those who give of their time and effort to provide significant support to improving medical education, medical research, and patient care.

In 2016, Hoblitzelle Foundation provided $2 million to advance the work of Peter O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern with the purchase of a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine.


Mad Hatter’s Tea to Celebrate 29 Years

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Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.28.14 AMBenefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden, the 29th Annual Mad Hatter’s Tea will take place April 27 at the Dallas Arboretum. The tea may be best known for the gorgeous and over-the-top hats worn by the women in society. Amy Warren and Amanda Hill will serve as this year’s honorary chairs.

Attendance for the even has grown, with people now traveling from as far as California. Fashion icon Rachel Zoe will be the celebrity guest. She is known for her effortless glamour and style to the stars. Zoe has been a clothes designer, author, and editor for The Zoe Report.

Dallas’ own Tootsies will highlight spring and summer trends produced by Jan Strimple.

Attended by over 450 people in the past, the Women’s Council is looking forward to what is to come.